Monthly Archives: January 2010

A tale of two talismans

There are several keys to World Cup success but none is more important than a talismanic attacking player. For the U.S. national team, that probably means Landon Donovan; for England it almost certainly means Wayne Rooney. Both had big days on Wednesday. Donovan scored his first Premier League goal, a well-taken one in Everton’s 2-0 victory over Sunderland. Donovan could have had a second goal but for a last ditch »

Whither KSM?

We have incessantly insisted that the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his 9/11 co-conspirators held at Guantanamo should not take place in federal court in New York. If they are to be tried at all, the trial should be held before a military commission at Guantanamo. Prominent New York politicians agree with us that KSM’s trial should not take place in New York. The New York Times and other »

A huge fourth quarter for our economy

GDP is estimated to have grown at an annualized rate of 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009. This represents the largest growth rate in six years. It means not only that the recession is over and probably has been for some time, but that the recovery may well be robust. The increase is said to be in part a function of a steep drop in the pace at »

J.D. Salinger, RIP

Sitting next to me in our seventh-grade study hall, one of my classmates began laughing uncontrollably. The cause of his laughter was the opening pages of J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. He laughed right through the time he was punished for his misconduct in breaking the study hall’s silence. I’d never heard of the book before, but I tracked down a copy as soon as possible. I’d always enjoyed »

Spring reading?

Here in the Washington legal community, the rumors are growing stronger that Justice Stevens will soon announce his retirement. The front-runner appears to be Elana Kagan, former Dean of Harvard Law School and currently the Solicitor General of the United States. Kagan’s advantages, as compared to judges like Diane Wood, are said to be her youth (she’s 49) and the absence of a paper trail of judicial opinions. Kagan has, »

The sky’s the limit

As expected, the Senate has cleared the way to confirm Ben Bernanke, invoking cloture by a vote of 77-23. I favor keeping Bernanke as head of the Fed. The Senate also voted to approve a $1.9 trillion boost in the amount of debt the federal government can take out. The measure passed by a 60 to 40 vote on strict party lines. The Washington Post notes that this legislation would »

A sound bite too far

During the oral argument in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Seth Waxman, the former Solicitor General of the United States who was representing John McCain and other campaign finance law sponsors, asserted that the plaintiffs’ position was contrary to the thrust of more than 50 years of Supreme Court precedent. Justice Alito said that this argument — or “sound bite,” as he characterized it — is “perplexing.” He noted »

Is it over yet?

On my patented measurement system of “feels like” elapsed time, I judge that Obama’s State of the Union speech clocked in at a Castroite three hours. Obama looked great, but the rhythm of his speech tapped out a steady drone. If things don’t work out in politics, he can always go to work for GQ. Some karmic balance must have placed him at the center of a picture in which »

Not a double-down but at least a down and a half

Perhaps the best way to evaluate tonight’s State of the Union speech is to speculate about how it will have sounded to independents and centrists. After all, their defection is mainly what has elected Republicans and driven down President Obama’s approval rating. Since I’m not an independent, it isn’t easy to put myself in their position. However, I do get some assistance from my wife who falls into that category. »

From Graham Road Elementary School to a less mature place

I suppose it’s still possible for a president to give a boffo State of the Union address and thereby boost his popularity, but much conspires against experiencing such success. The biggest headwind is the fact that, these days, Congress isn’t just the audience, it is an active participant. The problem begins before the president even enters, when the cameras show Congressmen and Senators milling around. Since Congress is hugely unpopular »

Time-out on health care reform

With no clear path forward on major health care legislation, Democratic leaders in Congress effectively slammed the brakes on President Obama’s top domestic priority on Tuesday, saying they no longer felt pressure to move quickly on a health bill after eight months of setting deadlines and missing them. So reports the New York Times today. The Times quotes Majority Leader Reid as saying: “We’re not on health care now; we’ve »

A caper too far?

We followed the heroics of James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles exposing the shady nature of ACORN last year. Yesterday O’Keefe was arrested and charged with three other young men for plotting to tamper with the telephone system in the New Orleans office of Senator Mary Landrieu. What gives? O’Keefe commented to reporters: “The truth shall set me free.” My friend Andrew Breitbart worked with O’Keefe and Giles to publicize their »

White House pre-SOTU talking points

Here are the pre-State of the Union talking points disseminated by the White House to its surrogates yesterday: Topline Points: Pre-State of the Union **Not for Distribution** Rescue, Rebuild and Restore · President Obama took office a year ago amid an array of challenges unparalleled in our lifetime. o Our economy was in freefall – gripped by the deepest downturn since the Great Depression and teetering on the edge of »

What’s at stake tonight?

Larry Sabato suggests that Barack Obama’s “credibility as president” will be on the line tonight when he gives his State of the Union address. I consider the speech far less consequential. There comes a time when voters decide to tune out the president. It seems to me that Obama has just about reached that point, although only temporarily. The electorate is clear, I think, that the power of the Democrats »

Is Obama “undervalued”?

Was it Joseph Kennedy who figured out that the stock market would soon crash when he heard hotel bell-boys talking about their stock purchases? Presidential politics don’t constitute a market, but I get the same kind of feeling when the likes of Eugene Robinson start bad-mouthing the Obama presidency. Perhaps it’s time to buy some of those beat-up Obama shares. Obama’s presidency is in trouble in this sense, at least: »

Conrad-Gregg Amendment defeated

The proposal by Senators Conrad and Gregg to establish a congressional commission to recommend reductions in the federal deficit has failed to pass in the Senate. It need 60 votes but received only 53, with 46 against. 37 Democrats and 16 Republicans voted in favor of the proposal. Republican opposition appears to have been based mostly on the fear that, in addition to calling for specific spending cuts, the commission »

Lady al Qaeda protests

The trial of al Qaeda terrorists in federal court will undoubtedly give us many moments like those afforded by the trial of “Lady al Qaeda” (Aafia Siddiqui). From the opening of Siddiqui’s trial came the New York Daily News report “Lady al Qaeda cries foul: Accused terrorist Aafia Siddiqui says toss Jews from jury pool.” Lady al Qaeda was not only concerned about the jury pool; she also had a »